Ugly Vegetables Need Love Too
|By Meg Jones - wife, mother,
Here's my first post from Salt Lake City, Utah, on how to prepare pork chops with maple, apple, and acorn squash. A few months ago, our younger daughter introduced us to Misfits Market. If you’re not familiar, as I wasn’t, the company describes itself as
“… a subscription box of sometimes funny-looking, always delicious produce, designed to break the cycle of food waste. Think of us like an online grocery store, except one that specializes in rescuing unnecessarily thrown-away food. We source high-quality organic produce that has a few quirks—onions that are too small, potatoes that are shaped like your favorite celebrity, and carrots that fell in love and got twisted together. It may sound like a joke, but billions of pounds of this fresh and delicious food is tossed yearly because grocery stores only want "perfect" foods. So we step in and buy this food from hundreds of farms across the country and bring them to your doorstep, saving you money and helping you save the world.”
We’re all about saving the world one veggie at a time, so we signed up for weekly delivery. And it has proved its worth in no time.
We always have fresh vegetables in the house that we have chosen from a list of options, meaning I’m not a risk of running out of onions, potatoes, or avocados, which I seem to use daily. We get to buy vegetables we might not usually think to use, like parsnips, lacinto kale, or golden beets.
And we always have enough ingredients to pull together a tasty, healthy meal, sometimes requiring a little creativity and always giving us the pleasure of working with quirky ingredients that would otherwise have hit the dumpster.
When it became clear that our daughter would be spending another semester studying remotely rather than on campus in LA County, we all agreed that a change of venue was in order. So she has taken up residence in Utah and is awaiting the arrival of three college friends who will join her for the next few months.
While she is an opportunivore, her friends range from vegan to pescatarian. So when she discovered that Misfits Market added Salt Lake City to its distribution locations, it seemed like a good idea to switch the subscription to Utah and let them play around with various produce options since they will be cooking for themselves.
The first Utah-bound box arrived before we did, and I didn’t even remember what I had ordered. When I opened it, the usual suspects tumbled out and were quickly used (onion, potato, avocado) as per above); we were left with acorn squash, kale, a granny smith apple, and one remaining onion.
Since we only had a week or so before the non-meat-eating cohort arrived, we thought it would be good to slip in some boneless pork chops now. So we typed our ingredients into Google and adapted a recipe from Whole Foods that is a variation on a pork and applesauce theme. It turned out to be superb, with the added benefit of being pretty simple to prepare.
First, we halved the acorn squash and roasted cut-side down for about 30 minutes at 350°F. We had the option of convection roast, so we went with that and found that the squash cooked a bit faster than anticipated.
During that time, we diced one large granny smith apple, cored but with the peel left on, and sauteed it in butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon, with an applesauce aim. Next, we flipped the acorn squash over on the roasting pan and filled each cavity with a scoop of the apple mixture. These went back in the oven for another 25 minutes.
At that point, we sauteed the pork chops in olive oil over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes per side, until they reached an internal temperature of about 165°F. While the pork rested, we added a pat of butter to the pan and sliced and sauteed our onion.
After about 10 minutes over medium heat, we threw in the lacinto kale that we had shredded and cooked this mixture until it was soft. We served each pork chop topped with the onion/kale saute with an acorn squash on the side.
We all scooped out the acorn squash, mashed it with the apple mixture, and combined it with the pork and veggies on each forkful. We were all surprised at how well it turned out and agreed that this could quickly become a winter go-to.
Give it a try, and if you don’t have kale, you can add other leafy green vegetables or herbs like thyme. Enjoy!
Pork Chops with Maple Apple Acorn Squash
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 cups granny smith apples diced, other tart apples work too
- 4 tablespoons butter unsalted, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 4 pork chops thin sliced, boneless, about 1 pound
- 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 bunch lacinto kale shredded
- ¼ teaspoon salt fine sea
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on an oiled roasting pan or baking sheet and place in the heated oven for about 30 minutes.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Add diced apple, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ¼ cup maple syrup, and cook until the apples are soft.
- When the squash has cooked for 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, turn the squash cut-side up, and fill each cavity with an equal part of the apple saute. Return pan to oven for 25 minutes to continue roasting.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for about 3 minutes per side until the internal temperature of the pork is about 160°-165°F. Move the pork to a plate and cover with foil.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the frying pan. When butter is melted, stir in the sliced onions, scraping up any bits of pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If the onions are cooking too quickly, turn the heat to medium.
- Add the kale to the onions and cook for another 8-10 minutes until soft.
- Serve the pork topped with the onion/kale saute and a side of acorn squash.
Some of My Favorite Pork Recipes